PEORIA, Ariz. – With the minor leaguers now playing games against other organizations it is no longer necessary for simulated or intrasquad games to be put together for Mariners pitchers that manager Lloyd McClendon is keeping from early-season opponents. Hisashi Iwakuma will make a start today for the Triple-A Mariners against the Triple-A Rangers here in Peoria on Field 6. Erasmo Ramirez will start in Tempe against the Angels.
I sat in for a couple of innings on the Saturday radio broadcast against the Cubs and asked Mike Blowers about how much of a difference it could make to not show starters considering that division rivals have seen plenty of Mariners pitchers. He pointed out that even the most familiar teams have new players, so in that respect it can give the pitcher a bit of an edge. Interestingly enough, Angels manager Mike Scioscia – who is known for playing every possible advantage – is going with his regular starter, Matt Shoemaker.
Iwakuma is scheduled to throw five to six innings while Ramirez – who will be backed up by Jordan Pries – should go four to five innings. The downside of having actual minor-league games vs. the simulated games is they are 1 p.m. starts, so no doubleheader today. Pitching coach Rick Waits will stay behind to watch Iwakuma while McClendon will stay with the major-league team. I was tempted to stay back and watch Iwakuma but McClendon is going with a good number of regulars and the majority of the Angels’ A-team is in the lineup, so to Tempe I go.
T. Smith, 4
Erasmo Ramirez, SP
Willie Bloomquist makes his 2015 debut at shortstop today for the final test of his surgically repaired knee. He is the only player on the projected 25-man roster who can back up short, so this is something to watch. So far he has had no troubles with the knee. Side-to-side mobility will be the biggest question mark at short.
• While Iwakuma is pitching for the Triple-A Mariners today, he is not necessarily pitching for the Rainiers as minor-league assignments are not made until the end of camp. Groups are breaking off into what looks like Low- and High-A, Double-A and Triple-A teams but nothing is official yet.
• Jesus Sucre, who left Sunday’s game with hip soreness, is expected to be able to play Tuesday.
• Upcoming probables: Tuesday at San Diego, Happ vs. Cashner; Wednesday vs. Chicago, Walker vs. Wood; Thursday vs. Kansas City, Felix vs. TBA; at Milwaukee, Elias vs. Fiers.